23 July 2012

the light at the end of the tunnel is rainbow coloured

I once read a piece of traditional Chinese wisdom stating that home renovations and moving house are ill-advised during pregnancy. I don’t know the justification for this, probably some ancient mythical superstition related to ancestral worship and spirits. I have another theory: the wisdom stems from the fact that the Chinese are simply a very sensible race.

Pregnant women, especially during the third trimester, want everything sorted. People call it nesting but I think it’s a simple sanity-preservation mechanism. The closer the date looms, the more evident it becomes that you have zero control over the labour, delivery and first few weeks of crazy mayhem, so you’d better try like buggery to be completely in command of everything else. All minutiae must have its own place, everything must be clean, the freezer must be stocked with nutritious meals, and order must reign supreme in every corner of your physical world. That is the only way for your brain to keep the fears, the uncertainty, the exhaustion, the waddling fatness, and the caffeine deprivation in perspective.

So if you’re tearing the arse end out of your crumbling house while pregnant, I recommend budgeting in a generous wodge for therapy. Either that, or accept that you will be hovering on the verge of tears 99% of your waking hours.

My tradesmen have just called to say there’s an emergency job to finish so they won’t be here this morning... They clearly don’t understand the definition of emergency. And I don’t have a therapist.

In my pursuit of duffed up domestic bliss I long to be this Mum, I have determined ambitions to be this Mum, and I feel sure that I once had the potential for this sort of thing. But instead, I check my sleeve for a tissue as I survey the thick coat of plaster dust that covers every chaotic surface, and which there’s simply no point in cleaning up because it’ll reappear (if the joiner ever does). That and I have simply no idea where the box of cleaning stuff is.

Like I said, the Chinese, they’re on to something.

So this nesting thing, it’s not going too well. But last week I promised you the best ever baby gift idea, so here goes. While the bento lunchboxes and beautifully photographed jewel-like crafts (in the links above) may elude me, this small thing I have achieved.

In 2007, when my first baby was born, a fellow ante-natal classmate made tie-dyed babygrows for each infant in our NCT group. She is a genuinely alternative free spirit and the gift was so special because she’d spent valuable time, during a very difficult few weeks, making something individual for all of the babies. All of us will forever treasure the photos of six infants propped up on a long sofa, each in their bright blue, green or fuchsia suits. But what I valued above all else was the inspiration she gave me; I continued to make bright, rainbow-coloured babygrows for my girl well into her second year. While sorting through an old box of clothes a few weeks ago, I found them in all their well-washed glory.

They were the perfect solution for the sea of white cotton (which so quickly fades to drab grey), and the ideal rebellion against insipid pale pink (a shade suited only to tall, dark, handsome, young men in my opinion – it favours almost nobody else and yet British shops offer very little else for our baby girls).

Now obviously, if you have a pregnant friend who leans on the hippy side of the stile, tie-dyed babygrows are the perfect gift. That one’s a no-brainer. But here’s the thing, I’m really not in the least bit crunchy: I like meals to be meaty, medicine to be evidence-based, cosmetic claims to be baloney-based, and I haven’t slept more than a metre from my hair straighteners in well over a decade. And still, I LOVE tie-dyed babygrows.

They’re cute, unique and easy. No other baby at playgroup will have anything quite like it, and if I had a pound for every time a freshly-minted, vibrantly-dyed babygrow acted as the ice-breaker in conversation with another new mum... seriously, people are naturally drawn to them.

But the strongest reason I have for begging you to give tie-dyes a try for your expectant friends is the colour argument. Insipid pastels are so ubiquitous, and I can’t help thinking there’s just something terribly old fashioned about the pastel pink/blue gender divide, while the beige/grey unisex options tread a fine line between stunningly chic and dreadfully dreary. Why shouldn’t orange or green or fire-engine red be unisex? (Caveat: I understand that the shopping choices are a bit more varied in the States, and those clever Scandis don’t bother with mimsy gender stereotypes - if I had the cash to splash only in Nordickids or GreenBaby, there’d be no need to write this post - but in the UK, genuinely affordable choices are still relatively limited outside the pastel confines.)

So, I won’t insult you with anything daft like a tutorial, you can read the instructions on a packet of dye. But I will say that my secret weapon this time around is a packet of cable ties – they cost pennies and make the whole process much faster than using tied thread. You’ll need the dyes of your choice and some plain white cotton baby gear; muslins, babygrows, vests, you name it (this is perfect for freshening up hand-me-downs too). I used Dylon hand dye, so I also needed a few bags of table salt and a pair of rubber gloves... or rather I wish I had bought the rubber gloves (do as I say, not as I do). I find that one packet of Dylon hand dye is enough for a set consisting 1 x babygrow, 1 x vest, 2 x muslins and either a hat or pair of scratch mitts (all newborn size). Later on, one packet is enough for a pair of 18m sized babygrows.

And on that note, I’ll leave you with some photos, because the joiner has just arrived so I need to go and project manage something noisy that I don’t understand while trying not to weep. My husband promises it'll all be finished in a fortnight...

Please, please, please let me know if you try making a tie-dyed baby gift – I’d simply LOVE to see my friend’s happy hippy love spread around ☺

the dragon baby's newborn trousseau

(some better photos added in this future post, which you don't need a tardis to visit... amazing huh?)



  1. Gorgeous!!!

    I have never dyed a thing in my life - I've bought Dylon a few times but that's as far as I got. You'd probably think I'm quite crunchy based on my parenting choices, but not a stitch of tie dye touched my babies and I feel we missed out after your pics!


  2. I promise to make one of those for my dear friend who was visiting this weekend. Her husband began a little home reno, oh, about 6 years ago. It was meant to be done before the first bub arrived. She is currently close to delivering number three and the renovation goes on. Good luck maintaining your sanity. At least know you are very funny to read, despite what must be a very stressful time xxx

  3. Ooh ladies, make 'em make 'em make 'em, I want to see!! Sarah , dig out those old packets of dye, and Greer, your friend will be so pleased!
    I'm going to try and get some better (outdoor) photos today while it isn't raining. Will add later. :-)

  4. those are adorable!! i only wish i had a little one to make one for! and don't cry too much sweetie, your husband is right, it won't be too much longer.

  5. Oooohhh! Thanks for the great idea! So glad I found you by popping on over from the post of the month club.

  6. Another reason to try and convince hubby to have another bubba! I'd love to give these a go.

  7. Those are so inspiring. None of my friends are pregnant at the moment and I am happy to be mum to three and no more so I will just have to wait until an opportunity comes my way to make these fun babygros!

  8. Ooh, I love this idea! Thanks so much for linking it to the POTMC. Hmm, now to decide who to make some for ☺. J x

  9. These are absolutely gorgeous! I think that they are a wonderful idea! I know my little man would love to wear some and its unfortunate that I don't know the first thing about tie-dyeing because I would very much love to be able to do it!!!

  10. I have a dragon baby too, and this is a great idea for the white but worn hand me downs he will be getting from big brother. Thanks for the inspiraton! Visiting from PotMC, Femme au Foyer


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